Thursday, October 22, 2009

22 OCT 09: The Final Countdown?

A couple of years ago, a Columbus business owner went on a personal mission. He did NOT want to promote his business -- but a book which claims to state the end of time. And you'll be disappointed to know the author has ruled you're out of time outs, and "running clock" rules are in effect.

The owner of Johnson's Camera Repair offered local newspapers some money to print ads promoting the religious book "Time Has an End." The author claims as of Wednesday, the world has two years left -- then God will destroy the entire physical universe. In other words, God's not going to let the Mayans declare victory in 2012.

(The ads promoting "Time Has an End" appeared in the Columbus Times and The Courier. They apparently did NOT appear in the Ledger-Enquirer - but then again, that sort of stuff is why the daily paper has a "letters to the editor" section.)

To mark this sobering pre-anniversary, I stopped by Johnson's Camera Repair in the Mission Square shopping center Wednesday. Owner Elijah Johnson has NOT changed his opinion about when time will end. Not when he has streaming audio of the author playing on a laptop computer - and from California, not the Columbus radio station which is much easier to pick up.

Tune to WFRC (90.5 FM) several times a day, and you'll hear the man who claims our universe now has only 729 days to go. Harold Camping is a founder and President of Family Radio, a Christian network based in Oakland. Critics who hear his radio Bible studies claim followers are being led on a strange "Camping trip."

Harold Camping uses all kinds of Bible-numerical mixtures to conclude 21 October 11 is "the end of the world." Judgment day for the world will come even earlier, in May 2011. Hopefully the old Russell County Courthouse roof finally will be fixed by then.

Harold Camping contends God stopped working in organized churches years ago - so Elijah Johnson does NOT go to church. Johnson told me Wednesday about 600 people in the Columbus area agree with Camping's views, but Family Radio discourages them from gathering together for worship. For that long-promised "meeting in the air," everyone will need to wear name tags.

I attended church services for three years with Elijah Johnson, after I moved to Columbus. In fact, his background is as a minister in the Church of Christ. So it's stunning for me to see how far he's moved - out of a pew, and into the privacy of his office on Sunday mornings. The only "end-time persecution" he may be facing there is the smell from Marco's Pizza next door.

So what's the problem with all this? Several, actually. Harold Camping originally thought Jesus might return in 1994. I've found members of his own Family Radio staff still attend church groups. And other Christian ministries claim Camping's teachings are far off-base -- although then again, some churches could have a lot of offering money at stake here.

After chatting with Elijah Johnson Wednesday, he gave me a seven-page printout with "ANOTHER INFALLIBLE PROOF" that the rapture of believers is coming in May 2011. When a document claims to be infallible in capital letters on page one.... well, even some supporters of President Obama are starting to admit he hasn't been perfect.

I still consider Elijah Johnson a friend. But as you might guess, I disagree with his and Harold Camping's view that the universe will end in two years. For instance, college football fans in the South are going to be upset if God ends "the game" before the regular season is over....

OVERHEARD OVER HERE:< It's poker night in Columbus, and a man is talking trash at the table. He's claiming to be a "poker genius."

"You're not a Super-Genius?" we ask. "Like Wile E. Coyote in the cartoon?"

The man stops short of going completely over the cliff. "I'm not a Super-Genius yet."

To which a man across the table responds: "Wait till he gets another beer."

The drive to poker night tops our review of Wednesday news items....

+ An evening drive found a METRA bus being attached to a tow truck at Talbotton Road and Veterans Parkway. I think I saw one or two people on the sidewalk next to the bus - so the usual crowd apparently was aboard.

+ The price of gasoline jumped across Columbus to the $2.50 range. The lowest I found was $2.48 a gallon at two BP stations along Manchester Expressway. Did that many people hurry to hardware stores and buy heating oil last Sunday and Monday?

+ Richard Hyatt's web site reported TV/radio car selling star Chris French has left Acura of Columbus. This proves once and for all Hardee's was lying with its recent commercials - you know, the ones saying "It's better when it's French."

+ Regions Bank announced its branch on Macon Road will close next January. It's practically across the street from the new Muscogee County Public Education Center -- and customers clearly are confused about which one has all the money.

+ Former Columbus Police officer Shatoya Wright was sentenced to six months in jail, for her role in a plot to rob a bank. Give Wright credit for one thing. Unlike those bank robbers earlier this week, she didn't wreck a police car attempting to make a getaway.

+ Federal Judge Clay Land sentenced Shawana Pierce to seven years in prison, for setting fire to the historic Fort Benning JAG building. Pierce could have made things worse - but she did NOT claim she torched the building because President Obama really was born in Kenya.

+ The U.S. Army International Sniper Competition ended at Fort Benning. WLTZ visited the morning challenge, and found only one shooting team could hit a target 680 meters away. Does Matt Ryan have to come down here from Atlanta, to show how this is done?

+ Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford announced he's backing Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks for Alabama Governor. Considering Langford is on trial right now for corruption, I imagine the other candidates are breathing a big sigh of relief.

+ The Southeastern Conference suspended the officiating crew which worked the Louisiana State-Georgia game. Bulldog fans are reminded to confine their celebration to the stands - because running onto the field could draw yet another 15-yard penalty.

+ Instant Message to whomever left a packet of "instant coffee beverage" on a counter at a Columbus post office: That's certainly unusual. I never would think to use those things for padding an envelope, and protecting valuables.

COMING SOON: Who would give me an award, for something which hasn't existed for years?....

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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